FIA’s red flag stance preventing F1 midfield shocks, says Ocon

The FIA’s reluctance to go for red flag restarts has contributed to the lack of giant-killing opportunities for midfield Formula 1 teams this year, reckons Esteban Ocon.

FIA’s red flag stance preventing F1 midfield shocks, says Ocon

In the wake of the controversial finish to last year’s Abu Dhabi season finale, race director Michael Masi was moved aside and replaced by a new shared system between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.

The pair have changed race control's approach, compared to Masi, on a number of topics, including track limits, safety car restarts and jewellery.

One other element that appears to have come to the fore is the desire by both of them to keep races going under virtual or full safety cars, rather than opt for red flag restarts.

That was highlighted at the Italian Grand Prix when the FIA ended up seeing out the race under a safety car rather than stopping it for go for a short restart when Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren got stuck at the side of the track.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

It is this change in policy that Ocon reckons has removed a core luck element that allowed midfield teams to previously pull off some surprise results.

He thinks it explains why he and team-mate Fernando Alonso have been unable to repeat the podium finishes they had last year, despite having a much better car now.

“Formula 1 with no red flag restart, with different FIA decisions at times, gave less opportunities to do that this year,” he explained in Japan. "It's more of a standard racing that we are going on, like it was in the past.

“There's no criticism there but, from what we've seen from the previous years in 2020 and 2021, the red flag brought a lot of spice to the races and brought opportunity to the midfield teams to be able to score podiums and wins.

“I think this year hasn't been the case because of that and because of more traditional races. But I definitely enjoy more this season. Because we are more capable, we are performing better. But yeah, it is true that it's a bit less rewarding for us, as we are not to the top yet.”

Read Also:

While McLaren and Alpine both took wins and podiums in 2021, this year Lando Norris is the only driver outside of the top three teams to have finished in the top three – with his third place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

While Ocon is without the kind of headline-grabbing result like his win in Hungary last season, he says there is still enjoyment to be had from the kind of campaign he is having now where he has more performance from his package.

“It's better to score more points in the championship, but I mean, a win and a podium...it is difficult,” he said, when asked what he prefers.

“But I think now we are happy with where we are with the car. More happy than last year. So let's stick to where we are. And it's not finished the season, so hopefully we can get the podium.”

shares
comments

Related video

Tsunoda says driving F1 car at Suzuka a "dream come true"

Schumacher blames spray for F1 Japanese GP practice shunt

The critical car launch element F1 teams are foolish to ignore

The critical car launch element F1 teams are foolish to ignore

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Jonathan Noble

The critical car launch element F1 teams are foolish to ignore The critical car launch element F1 teams are foolish to ignore

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Williams launch
Alex Kalinauckas

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues

How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Alfa Romeo launch
Jake Boxall-Legge

How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
GP Racing

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
GP Racing

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Alex Kalinauckas

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Jonathan Noble

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Alex Kalinauckas

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff